Change Can Be A Good Thing
Sometimes it's hard to remember that change can be a good thing. Human beings are, for the most part, resistant to change. The exception is when we see that the change in question is clearly in our favor, but sometimes discerning this is harder than it seems, and even then it may be difficult to get people to come to an agreement concerning change. All too often, therefore, we resist change until it becomes inevitable... then, when finally forced to adapt to a new way of things, we find that it isn't quite as bad as we thought it would be. The past slips away and we go on with our lives. Granted, all changes aren't always this positive-- presidential elections come to mind-- but one change that seems to be largely favorable is the shift to 7th Edition.
Strictly speaking, 7th Edition became legal (and, correspondingly, 6th illegal) on this past Tuesday, May 1st. Because it seems that most tournament Magic is played on the weekends, however, it is only starting tonight that most of us will get our first taste of the new environment. I know I have. I attended my usual Friday Night Magic venue ("usual" being a loosely used term, as it was only my third session at this location) and got locked down in my first match by a Saproling Opposition deck. He won the first game when I got a lousy draw, I won the second when he returned the favor, and the third game came down to me making a play error when he tapped me down at my upkeep and I forgot to Dismantling Blow his Opposition in response. I was quite impressed with the deck, to be honest-- it contained several ideas that I hadn't even thought of. Let's just say that Saproling Cluster + Coastal Piracy = Combo. I don't think it's a broken deck or anything, but it deserves respect and is probably the first strong new archetype to emerge from 7th. (Yes, I know it's really a rehashed old archetype, but anyway...)
That was the only tournament match I got to play this evening, as the FNM is single-elimination, a fact compensated for by the absence of an entry fee. I did play a game afterwards against a teammate's Junk deck, which I won. Then I felt guilty, so I pulled out the other new deck I've been working on-- a mono-black creation with heavy discard and Necrologia for card drawing. It wins either through massive Corrupts or by endlessly recurring Highway Robbers for mini-drains and chump blockers. Usually both. I like the deck, but Llanowar Knight is pretty much an auto-lose condition, so I got my rear handed to me in predictable fashion. No matter. I had written the evening off by that point, so I got in my car and went home.
To make a long story short, I haven't played much in the new format yet. Of course, neither has anyone else. Because the weekend is still mostly ahead of us, I'm going to grace you with my (no doubt inaccurate) predictions of what will appear. For the most part, these will be the same decks as last week (and the week before, and the week before that) but there will be a few new wrinkles in some of the matchups, no doubt.
Counter-Rebel: This is the big one to look out for, in my opinion. Not that that's a change or anything, but I ought to say it again. Counter-Rebels continues to steam away like the well-oiled machine it is. It gained nothing, it lost nothing, and nobody got anything new to use against it. Engineered Plague was used against Rebels once, but now it's a more expensive Dread of Night. That doesn't mean it won't get played, but that's just because it's all that's left. And while Duress does pose a new wrinkle in the form of potentially losing a counter or other valuable card on the first turn, this is a threat that will be present across the entire field, and Counter-Rebel is no more susceptible than any other deck.
Fires: Ditto. The only thing Fires probably has to fear is Hibernation, which assumes the role of an instant-speed Wash Out and will probably become a sideboard favorite in decks that are at least partially blue, especially those without a white component. With Flametongue Kavu and Chimeric Idol the only non-green, nonland permanents to be found in most Fires decks, the board can be cleared in a hurry. Despite this, Fires' speed, consistency, and "I win" draw have not changed, and it remains a winner.
Opposition: To be honest, this is the only other deck I see as becoming especially widespread in the immediate future. Enough people are certainly talking about it, and I believe that at least a couple of the builds I've seen have the potential to achieve Tier 1 status with a little work. 7th gave this deck its engine (Opposition), a few ways to stay alive long enough to win (Hibernation again among them) and various other Good Blue Cards to spice up the mix. I'll be interested to see what happens to it, but at the moment it's definitely a deck that you should watch out for-- and that is, after all, the purpose of this list.
Red Zone, Junk, and a lot of decks with white but no blue: Okay, these aren't decks that you need to watch for. Quite the opposite, in fact. They are severely weaker now, and the reason why can be found in the absence of two cards: Armageddon and River Boa. This may not have killed these deck types altogether, but it has taken away some of their strongest selling points, especially versus control decks. If they are to survive, they are going to have to adapt. Red Zone will probably morph into an Eladamri's Call deck, a design that the archetype seemed to be drifting towards even before the 6th-for-7th shift. Junk will just have to deal. It remains to be seen whether replacement card choices can be found, and how good those choices will be.
Other decks: New sets have a way of spawning a brief flurry of roguishness, and this one seems to be no exception. As always, you'll just have to play the best deck you can and try to have answers for just about anything.
My deck? I'm glad you asked. No, really.
SPIKE'S LATEST BOUT OF INSANITY
I would have kept playing my Thundercats-style red deck from Regionals, despite its poor showing there, but I had to give back the Rishadan Ports and Dust Bowls I borrowed for the event. Without those, I didn't like my chances that well. I might try it again in a few weeks, but anyway... Then I played a W/U/B Evil Eye control deck last weekend, wanting to use Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore one last time, and liked the deck a lot. So I tweaked it and came up with this result. I like the deck and intend to spend some time working with it, but you know how I tend to go through decks at breakneck speed, so we'll see how long I stick with it.
Next week I'll take a look at one of my favorite parts of any new set: the commons. Hope you all have a good time this weekend.